Running Track & Athletics Facilities, University Academy Keighley
Most club members will be aware that the 400m, 8-lane running track at University Academy Keighley (UAK, formerly Greenhead) has now been resurfaced and work on the new school and associated facilities is beginning to take shape. As ever with facilities that have yet to be fully completed there are practical and contractual limitations on usage and the following is aimed to give a definitive update for K&C AC members and for members of other athletic clubs in the Bradford Athletic Network (BAN).
1. As stated above, from September 2010 Greenhead is known as University Academy Keighley. The new school which is in the process of being built is in fact two schools: UAK, which is located towards the Cliffe Castle Park end of the building; and Beechcliffe Special School (for pupils with special needs for disabilities) at the Greenhead Road end. The new schools are part of Wave 2 of the Bradford Building Schools for the Future programme – the BSF programme has now been cut altogether so it is lucky in this sense that the Keighley project was so far down the road and thus will be completed.
2. The contractual arrangements are incredibly complicated but basically the buildings and associated facilities (including the track) are part of a PFI (private finance initiative) deal which means that a private sector consortium has invested up-front in building it all and it will be leased back to the academy and special school over (I think) a 25-year period.
3. As of now, the site is still officially in the possession of the PFI and its contractors. They are responsible for the site and for all health and safety issues upon it, and for repairs to any faults and or damage that occurs between now and the projected contract completion date in Spring 2011. The Academy has, however, accepted the track and the internal artificial pitches on a temporary basis and this is what has allowed the limited use of the track on Thursday evening club nights since 16th September. However, the new floodlights are yet to be connected and thus usage during the winter evenings (ie, practically speaking from now on) will not be possible. There are, however, negotiations in place to try to gain daytime access at weekends and school holidays. There will, however, be a charge involved for this as the caretaker will have to open up the facility. More news on this as soon as it’s available (note that in the meantime there are Saturday morning sessions at 9.30am on Saturday mornings in Cliffe Castle, on the road and on the fixed XC course, and also that the Open Kross Challenge will occur on the second Saturday of each month through to March as from 16th October, so there’s plenty of scope for quality weekend training!)
4. Some track rules have been put in place to ensure that the new facility is kept as well as possible and doesn’t deteriorate in a similar way to the previous surface. The aim is to have much more, regular competition (for all standards) on the track and thus the aim is to preserve it so that it is in the best of shape for such competition. The guidelines are based on best practice around the UK, and also reflect the need for everyone to know what others are doing and to respect each others’ space because the other outcome that we want is more people coming down and getting involved with the club and with the sport, especially leading up to and beyond London 2012.
UAK Track Use Guidance
5. There have already been some claims that some people haven’t been “allowed” to use the track for a variety of reasons. Notwithstanding that evening access is now ruled out for everyone until next spring, there is no restriction on anyone using the track when it is open, as long as they agree to abide by the UAK rules and pay the appropriate fee.
6. The facilities are not yet complete. The track has been re-laid but there are still items “missing” that are being chased (pole vault box, steeplechase water jump). The field events will be located on the grassed area above the track (the temporary courts that are at present located here will be relocated to the area where the old school buildings currently are when it has been demolished). The good news is that a full throwing cage has now apparently been procured for hammer and discus. We have lost access to the CLC for the Thursday night sessions although we are working behind the scenes to try and remedy this. Dave Copeland is no longer the manager of the CLC (thus the change in circumstances) but it does show the extent to which Dave went out of his way to help while he was in charge and that we’re lucky that he’ll continue to be supportive as vice-principal of UAK.
7. There will be a number of other facilities, some of them very specialist, that will be accessible once everything is completed. These include proper reception, changing rooms, toilets and showers, a hydrotherapy pool (where people like Zip Jones will be able to regain fitness after surgery, injury, etc), gymnasia, sports hall, meeting rooms, etc and there will also be catering in the evenings too. I believe that the facilities will be open till 10pm on week nights. It will be a place for club members to meet and socialise as well as train and this will no doubt have a huge and positive impact on the club. The academy is sponsored by Bradford University and by Bradford Council and this will provide many additional benefits in terms of facilities and support. UAK will also be a centre for disability sport and athletics, it will hopefully be a training centre for coach education and also a centre to develop the testing, preparation and training of all standards of athlete in the future, one of the best in the UK.
8. As we all know, it has been a long, hard wait for things to improve. The low point for me was a couple of years ago when an option was tabled to build the new school where the track is and to get rid of the latter altogether! Thanks to loads of hard work by people like Tricia McCarthy, the UAK Principal, and Dave Copeland, the UAK Vice-Principal (and me in my voluntary capacity!) this did not arise and now we only have one winter to wait before we have use of top-class facilities, right on our doorstep, in partnership with an organisation committed to developing and maintaining them, at a time when everywhere else is facing cuts and when there is absolutely no chance of getting a track or anything else where none was before. Therefore, although it’s been a long wait, we’re still far better off than many.
9. Hope this helps. If anyone wants to know anything about the development please just call me on 07919 477861 or contact me at email@example.com and I’ll do my best to help, or refer you to a person who can!